Rubber Yoga Mats- Everything You Need To Know

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Rubber Yoga Mats are some of the most popular yoga mats made. Rubber yoga mats tend to be higher-end mats because of their comfort, grip, and durability.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Rubber Yoga Mats and then we’ll share our recommended rubber yoga mats.

However, if you’re in a hurry you can jump to our recommended rubber yoga mats by clicking here.

Rubber Yoga Mat Basics

The term “Rubber Yoga Mat” can be a little less precise than we’d hope. You see, rubber yoga mats can either be made from natural rubber or synthetic rubber.

Both natural and synthetic rubber are considered real rubber as both are elastomers and exhibit properties of elasticity. This means that rubber can retain its original shape even if it is stretched to great extent.

Natural yoga mats are different from synthetic yoga mats as they are sourced directly from nature. Natural rubber is a common raw material used in countless industries today. In fact, natural rubber goes into making 40,000 kinds of products globally. 

Meanwhile, synthetic rubber is a man-made elastomer that is obtained through a chemical process. It is made to exhibit almost all the same properties as natural rubber. We say almost, because not all the properties of natural rubber can be found in synthetic rubber. 

But before we go into the properties of natural rubber yoga mats vs synthetic rubber yoga mats, let’s make sure we understand the differences between the two types of rubber mats.

How Natural Rubber Yoga Mats Made

Rubber that is used for 100% natural yoga mats is extracted from a tree found in South America called the Hevea Brasiliensis or rubber trees. This tree was first discovered by Charles Marie de la Condamine. He found that the tree has natural latex tubes running through the plan. Because of this, it is easier to extract rubber from the tree when an incision is made along the trunk. 

The process of harvesting rubber from rubber trees begins by tapping the tree for rubber with a 0.25-inch incision half of the way around the trunk of the tree. This causes raw rubber to pour out of the tree in small quantities.

Tapping A Rubber Tree For Natural Rubber Used In Yoga Mats.

Tapping a rubber tree doesn’t kill it if you do it right. On average, a rubber tree produces about a cup of raw rubber with each tapping and can be re-tapped every 2 to 4 days. Amazing, right?

After harvesting the rubber, the rubber undergoes a process called vulcanizing. The vulcanizing process makes rubber resistant to heat and chemical degradation. It allows for the rubber to harden while not losing its elastic property. 

How Synthetic Rubber Yoga Mats Made

The most common kind of synthetic rubber used in yoga mats is the NBR Yoga mat. NBR rubber stands for Nitrile or Buna-N rubber. This kind of rubber is considered durable, elastic, and economical, especially when compared to using natural rubber.

NBR rubber is created by a chemical emulsion process using the byproduct of petroleum. When NBR rubber is made into rubber yoga mats, they have many of the same physical characteristics as natural rubber yoga mats, but also retain the history and ghost of the chemical process used to create them.

Rubber Yoga Mats Vs TPE and PVC Yoga Mats 

The table below shows how rubber yoga mats compare to other yoga mat materials: 

Rubber Yoga MatsThermoplastic Elastomers (TPE)PVC Yoga Mats
Can be sourced from nature (environmentally friendly and natural) or can be synthetic (economic) More environmentally friendly than synthetic rubber, but less than natural rubber. TPE can be recycled. Economical to make and can be molded into different designs. 
Heat and chemical resistance due to the vulcanizing processTPE Yoga Mats are durable, resistant to heat, fatigue, and chemicals It has a sticky surface and is known to add grip and aid in stabilization 
Natural rubber is less harmful to the environment than PVC and is biodegradable Is easier to manufacture than rubber yoga mats (cheaper) and acts much like rubber at room tempCan release toxic fumes when it breaks down through heat. 
Elastic and durable. Can get soft like plastic when subjected to high temperatures. Is made from heavy metals and can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested. 
Yoga mats that come from 100% natural rubber come at a very high premium and are expensive. Can be molded into different designs. Cheaper compared to rubber mats.
Rubber Yoga Mats Vs TPE and PVC Yoga Mats

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Frequently Asked Questions About Rubber Yoga Mats

Are all rubber yoga mats 100% natural?

Rubber yoga mats can be made from either natural or synthetic rubber. Since making natural rubber yoga mats is a labor-intensive process, synthetic rubber yoga mats are much more affordable and common. The majority of rubber yoga mats are made from synthetic rubber and are not natural.

You can find 100% natural rubber yoga mats, but they are more expensive. Later in this article, we’ll talk about our favorites and give you some direct links to learn more.

What are the advantages of rubber yoga mats? 

100% natural rubber yoga mats have an advantage over most other yoga mats because they are sourced directly from the environment and are sustainably harvested. They are highly durable and have a sticky grip that allows you to have great stability during practice. 

Rubber yoga mats also provide more cushioning than TPE or PVC yoga mats.

It should be noted that natural rubber yoga mats contain latex, which can trigger a reaction in those who are allergic. Synthetic rubber yoga mats do not contain any natural latex.

What are the disadvantages of rubber yoga mats?

Natural rubber yoga mats tend to have a very rubbery smell because they are actually made from rubber. This smell doesn’t bother some yogis, but others find the smell overwhelming especially during asanas where they are positioned face down on their mats.

Natural rubber yoga mats are also sourced from a tree that contains latex. Because of this, 100% natural yoga mats are considered to be an allergen. Those who have allergies to latex should stay away from 100% natural rubber yoga mats. 

Also, natural and synthetic rubber yoga mats tend to be thicker than other yoga mats. While this provides more cushioning as compared to PVC or TPE yoga mats, thicker mats are also heavier. This means that rubber yoga mats are not as travel friendly as many other yoga mats. 

Are Rubber Yoga Mats Eco Friendly? 

Natural rubber yoga mats that are 100% made from rubber plants and trees are eco-friendly while synthetic rubber yoga mats are considered to be harmful to the environment because of the heavy chemical process used to create synthetic rubber.

Natural rubber is also biodegradable so even if your mat finds its way to the landfill you can rest comfortably knowing it won’t be releasing any kind of toxins into the environment.

Rubber can also be recycled and upcycled into different products, all you need is a little bit of talent and a whole lot of creativity. 

Are Rubber Yoga Mats Sustainable? 

Natural rubber yoga mats are sustainable because the natural rubber can be harvested from rubber trees without killing the trees.

Synthetic rubber yoga mats are not sustainable because their base materials are derived from petroleum.

One must keep in mind that the topic of sustainability isn’t really black and white. There is more to sustainability other than just its environmental impact. Companies that use natural rubber as a raw material must always consider the social impact of their businesses.

The Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber is a regulating body that aims to promote sustainable practices in the natural rubber industry. You can check some of the sustainability practices that they consider standard and urgent and what companies are members of this organization. 

To our knowledge, there are no yoga mat companies that are members of this regulating body, but we believe this is more a matter of scale than of commitment to sustainable social practices. We don’t believe that any yoga manufacturer is actually harvesting their own natural rubber and that all are instead buying their raw materials from larger companies.

Are Rubber Yoga Mats Recyclable 

Rubber yoga mats can be recycled if you are creative enough. But, some yoga mat manufacturers offer their own recycling programs for their produced yoga mats. You can ask your yoga manufacturer if they have a program for recycling. 

If not you can always clean out yoga mats and recycle them as carpet backings or repurpose them for floor seats in your patio or port. You can also clean your yoga mats and if they are not yet degraded then you can donate them to a local charity. 

In this way, not only will you be helping the environment, you will also be helping others in your community. 

Are Rubber Yoga Mats Non-Toxic? 

100% natural rubber yoga mats are not toxic, though they do contain natural latex which is an allergen for some people. NBR or synthetic rubber yoga mats on the other hand are made up of toxic chemicals derived primarily from petroleum.

100% natural yoga mats are made from the sap of rubber trees or rubber plants.

NBR or synthetic rubber is made from primarily petroleum products. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor, there are studies that have correlated the instances of cancer and workers in synthetic rubber factories. According to another study, there is a correlation between leukemia and exposure to Butadiene. Butadiene is one of the chemicals used in many NBR rubber industries today and is a suspected human carcinogen. 

Another common chemical in synthetic yoga mats is acrylonitrile. The US Environmental Protection Agency has determined that while acrylonitrile is a type of cyanide, this chemical is not as toxic. But, occupational and acute exposure to the substance can cause some irritation such as nausea and dizziness. A more detailed study can be found in this published EPA paper.

Allergens in Rubber Yoga Mats?

Natural rubber yoga mats contain an allergen called latex. Latex allergy is defined by Mayo Clinic as your body reacting to latex as if it is a harmful substance. Latex allergy can cause itchiness, and hives but in very extreme cases it could prevent breathing (anaphylaxis). 

If you feel itchy after touching rubber products such as balloons or gloves, then you might be allergic to latex. If this is the case, then you must absolutely avoid using rubber yoga mats.

Synthetic rubber yoga mats usually do not contain latex, but some synthetic rubber yoga mats do so it’s better to err on the side of caution and avoid all rubber yoga mats if you have a latex allergy. 

Best Natural Rubber Yoga Mat

Best Natural Rubber Yoga Mats 

Rubber yoga mats are beautiful and provide great cushioning. However, they do also come at a hefty price point, especially if you are looking for a natural rubber yoga mat which is what our team here at Charmed Yoga prefers.

To make sure we can help you find the best rubber yoga mat that meets your budget, we’ve made a list of the best mats in three price categories.

Best Premium Natural Rubber Yoga Mat

The Jade Fusion Yoga Mat – Extra Thick is, without a doubt, the best natural rubber yoga mat for all yoga enthusiasts who are looking for the highest-quality yoga gear and who have the means necessary to purchase a premium yoga mat.

This yoga mat is super thick (5/16 in) and comfortable. It comes in a variety of sizes so even the largest yogis can find a mat to fit them. Their largest Fusion Yoga Mat is 28″ Wide x 80″ Long! { Click here to see it on Amazon. >>> }

Not only is the Jade Fusion Yoga Mat made from 100% natural rubber, but the company plants trees for every yoga mat they sell. This is as environmentally and socially friendly as a yoga mat can get.  

Best Mid-Range Natural Rubber Yoga Mat

The Manduka eKo Yoga Mat is another 100% natural rubber yoga mat. This yoga mat is not as thick as the Jade Fusion mat which is our premium recommendation, but it’s also not as heavy which makes it much nicer for travel, even from home to your local yoga studio.

This is still a comfortable and toxin-free rubber yoga mat that comes in a variety of colors.

And this yoga mat is only about 1/2 of the price of the premium rubber yoga mat.

Best Budget Natural Rubber Yoga Mat 

The Tiggar Yoga Mat is a budget friendly natural rubber yoga mat with solid quality.

This is the thinnest of the three rubber yoga mats that we recommend, but it still has enough cushioning to be reasonably comfortable if you’re not dealing with joint pain that is made worse by being on your knees.

This yoga mat only comes in one size but there are a variety of colors to choose from. 

Caring For Rubber Yoga Mats 

Rubber yoga mats are easy to care, but if you’re new to yoga you probably have some questions.

Below are the things you need to know to care for a rubber yoga mat and extend its useful life.

  1. Cleaning is easy: you can read the labels of the mat for any special instructions but essentially dipping a cloth in warm water with soap and wiping the surface of the mat will do the job.
  2. Do not subject your mat to heat. Rubber will melt at high temperatures, so never put a rubber yoga mat in the dryer or leave it exposed to the summer sun for extended periods of time.
  3. Consider using a yoga towel to keep your rubber yoga mats clean for longer. 
  4. If not in use, roll up your mat and store it in a safe place away from direct sunlight. Be sure that your yoga mat is dry before you roll it up.
  5. Do not put your rubber yoga mat in the washing machine. The rubber will absorb the water and your mat will become waterlogged and crazy heavy making it harder for you to wring out the water and it will take your mat longer than necessary to dry. 

~ Namesta ~

The Charmed Yoga Team

Charmed Yoga Team

The Charmed Yoga Team is made up of an eclectic group of yoga enthusiasts with a wide range of experience, age, sex, and even how seriously they take their yoga practice. For each article, one team member takes the lead then the team reworks the article to make sure that the information included is on point for all kinds of yogis. ~Namaste

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